Those Stairs

Trite and slight – it was a little film. I daresay nobody will have it on their list of the top ten for the year. This cinema lover certainly won’t either. It was eminently predictable with the two leads just going through their paces, producing the same shtick they’re renowned for. They have been doing it for decades now. It’s ending is a cop-out, but which of us probably wouldn’t make the same decision, given the circumstances – that is, to try and put off the inevitable just a while longer. There’s the corny sub-plot of a cute dog at death’s door and creating a sense of unease, there’s a terrorist on the loose in the neighbourhood. Hopefully it’s not too much of a spoiler to mention that nothing untoward happens to shatter the slumbery pace of this light effort from director Richard Loncraine.


Respected critic Philippa Hawker recently did a puff piece to promote the film, which in truth hasn’t attracted a great deal of kindness from many of her colleagues in the print media. She describes ‘5 Flights Up’ as a ‘…love letter to New York, and to the importance of connections to place.’

Alex and Ruth have aboded in the same Brooklyn apartment for most of their married years, but are now of an age, despite their love of home and the area they live in, where a change is of the essence. They cannot imagine hauling themselves up those stairs in their elevator-less building for much longer. They must engage in the process of finding somewhere else to live before their health collapses due to the strain of it all. Enter the vicissitudes of buying and selling real estate, represented by motor-mouth agent played irritatingly (on purpose) by Cynthia Nixon. She gets on the couple’s pip, not to mention the audience’s. Alex (Morgan Freeman) knows in his heart of hearts he should move, but is in denial. Voluble Ruth (Diane Keaton), is the mover and shaker of the two, worried about her hubby’s – well-being. He’s already had a scare. Obviously their union doesn’t raise a ripple these days, but back when they hitched it was unusual to say the least – as well as frowned on by many. They came together when Alex engaged her to pose nude – he’s an artist you see – just starting out back then, but now with some repute. She wanted to know why he chose her from however they did such a thing in the pre-on-line perusal age. There were many prettier girls listed she coyly claimed. ‘Because you’re real,’ was his response. That hooked her. The younger Ruth is beautifully played by Oz actress Claire van der Boom.

5 flights

And, for my money, there are few actresses who have graced our screens more beautifully than Diane K over the years. Remember how we all fell in love with her in ‘Annie Hall’. In her close-ups now there is the obvious weathering of age on her gorgeous features, but none-the-less she’s still a stunner. Long may she remain so.

5 flights02

And of course Morgan Freeman is simply irreplaceable in our world. In his next film he’s teamed with Alan Arkin, Michael Caine and Ann Margaret. Can’t wait for that.

But Ms Hawker is correct. New York, away from the Statue of Liberty, skyscrapers and street canyons, is charmingly portrayed. The city has never featured as a place pulling me to visit, but after ‘5Flights Up’ I could be tempted and I know I’d spend all my time in the land of Alex and Ruth. For all its faults, the offering is a loving homage to the real Big Apple and its real people.

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